The "back of the book" summary of this sounded interesting but to a degree it felt "done before" as though it was playing off the recent "Twilight" hype and digging into the teenage supernatural romance thing. At the same time, it sounded different enough that I wanted to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised.
The writing was smooth and easy, accessible to teenagers and younger readers while still being smart, playful and keeping just enough secret to be intriguing while letting enough slip to keep me interested.
Most of the peripheral characters and settings felt moderately bland and fairly stereotypical 'teen romance novel', but there was intriguing depth to some of the characters, particularly Dante, to keep me engaged and wondering where things were going. Abby too was well fleshed out and felt "real" to me. The general high school, home and date scenes were fairly normal but I really liked the juxtaposition of the stage/theatre for the school play and the teenage bar/club ("the Dungeon") for after hours activities. These two settings were unique enough to be interesting and also felt like natural gather points for the story.
The story itself was engaging as well. Abby's immediate draw to Dante seemed a little cheesy at first (although, since all the girls were swooning at him, it worked) and so I liked the mental and emotional debate that Abby had with herself about even thinking about liking him. I liked the deterioration in Abby & Jason's relationship, the growth of Abby & Dante's relationship and the strange development in the other relationships around the school…particularly with the introduction of the band Zero Hour.
More interesting to me was Dante's almost immediate interest in Abby. It seems that this was one of those things that was never fully explained. He had a connection with her from the first moment they meet. Is there something else going on here? Was she the girl from the prologue? Is he connected to her for some other reason? That question was never explicitly answered.
Which brings me to my biggest complaint(s) with the book. There were a lot of intriguing story arcs that existed peripheral to the main story. As such, there were a lot of questions that were exposed…but, to my recollection, many/most of these were never appropriately answered. Did the author know that this would be a series and planned to address these loose threads in a future book? Did she just not have a good answer for them yet but wanted to leave them in to provide some added tension/intrigue? Or are we, the readers, supposed to assume our answers are correct based on the limited knowledge we have?
Some of the questions left unanswered for me (Potential Spoilers): who was the girl Dante saw in the prologue? why did Dante feel an immediate connection to Abby when he met her at rehearsal? why did Dante give Abby the plans for the Hourglass door rather than just planning to rebuild it himself? what was the purposes of the robberies (purportedly done by Zero Hour)? was Veronica affected by "out of time" situations like Abby was? why did Leo forbid Dante to drive (just seemed like a silly rule)? why is Dante such a fast healer (this explanation never worked for me…he's "out of time", ok…but why does this cause his body to heal/regenerate faster)? assuming the answer to Dante's healing has to do with being "out of time", then why has Leo aged/deteriorated so much rather than staying the same (maybe it just slows things down, but then shouldn't healing slow down too)? potential paradox questions…?
Anyway, I really loved the creativity in the use of the door and the way the time portal worked out and the use of the River analogy for time. I enjoyed the relationship between Abby and Dante…particularly the tension between them and the way they dealt with that and grew together naturally.
I am definitely curious to see what happens in the next book (due out this summer). I'm intrigued to see how Dante works things out with Zo and the rest, to find out what Abby and Jason figure out and where things go with her. The Hourglass Door is a fun and intriguing storyline with nice character development and good writing.
4 out of 5 stars
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